Bloomberg News reports that Johnson & Johnson has paid at least $68.7 million so far to settle Ortho Evra lawsuits filed by women who suffered blood clots as a result of their birth control patch. However, the drug maker continues to face thousands of other cases that have not resolved.
Ortho Evra is a contraceptive patch that women wear on their skin to prevent pregnancy as an alternative to an oral birth control pill. It is designed to be more convenient and to promote continued use, as the patch only needs to be changed once a week.
Studies, however, have established that the birth control patch delivers up to 60% more estrogen than the pill, which increases the risk of serious and potentially life-threatening injuries. Side effects of Ortho Evra have been associated with an increased risk of heart attacks, strokes, pulmonary embolisms, deep vein thrombosis and other blood clot injuries.
Ortho-Mcneil Pharmaceuticals, which is a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson, faces approximately 4,000 Ortho Evra lawsuits filed in state and federal court on behalf of women who allege injuries caused by the birth control patch’s side effects.
Reports have emerged of various individual cases which settled as their trial dates approached, even though Johnson & Johnson has tried to keep all settlements confidential.
Last year, Bloomberg News reported that Johnson & Johnson reached a confidential $1.25 million settlement for one Ortho Evra birth control patch lawsuit filed by a 14 year old girl who suffered two blood clots in her lungs after using the patch for several weeks. The details of that settlement were made public after the news agency received a copy of settlement documents from a court clerk.
As of March 31, 2008, Bloomberg estimates that Johnson & Johnson has spent at least $68.7 million on confidential settlements in the Ortho Evra litigation. The news agency based this figure on the size of a common benefit fund that receives 3% of every Ortho Evra settlement to compensate lawyers who performed common benefit services and collected evidence which is used by all attorneys pursuing cases.
While Johnson & Johnson has been negotiating confidential settlements to avoid trials, many Ortho Evra lawyers representing women who used the patch have not agreed to settle for the amount they were offered, and the first cases are expected to go to trial next year.